April, 23

US Air Force concludes participation in multinational Atlantic Trident 2023 exercise

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RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall concluded their participation in Atlantic Trident 2023 Nov. 10, after working alongside French and British aircrews.

Atlantic Trident is a biennial multinational exercise to build combatant cooperation capabilities between French, U.K. and U.S. air forces, with the 2023 incarnation hosted by United Kingdom at RAF Waddington and RAF Leeming

Each exercise iteration meets specific readiness objectives that reflect ongoing and projected mission requirements. In 2023, exercise planners created scenarios that provided advanced and realistic aircrew training through fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft integration, strengthening interoperability during joint operations, and air defenses to maintain joint readiness.

“Atlantic Trident reflects our strong commitment with France and the United Kingdom and continues to strengthen our military ties,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. John Lamontagne, deputy commander of United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa

During this exercise, KC-135 Stratotankers from RAF Mildenhall provided aerial refueling capabilities, and F-15E Strike Eagles from the 492nd Fighter Squadron and F-35A Lightning IIs from the 493rd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath participated with allies in rapid deployment exercises under the Agile Combat Employment model. A contingent from Ramstein Air Base’s 1st Combat Communications Squadron also supported the exercise.


The key objective for U.S. participants was to exercise the U.S. Air Force’s ACE concept by providing participants with opportunities to test and improve shared technical and tactical knowledge. ACE is one of USAFE-AFAFRICA’s five operational focus areas. 

ACE represents a reinvigoration of a tried-and-true military concept that emphasizes agility and rapid adaptation to changing threat environments. In contrast to conventional operating methods, ACE seeks to reduce reliance on traditional fixed bases and static deployments. Instead, it embraces a dynamic approach to rapidly distribute, reposition and operate from multiple dispersed locations. By doing so, ACE aims to deny adversaries the advantage of predictability, while concurrently enhancing USAFE-AFAFRICA’s capacity to respond swiftly to emerging threats.

Where the U.S. Air Force has ACE, the French air force applies their operational concept of MORANE, a mindset which sees French air forces employ rapid implementation to deploy and act quickly with a small logistical footprint. Understanding the different operational concepts employed by the U.S., French and British air contingents is the first step towards building shared objectives and improving coordination, according to Matthew Snyder, USAFE lead planner for Atlantic Trident 2023. Practice will lead to better force integration and interoperability. 

Allied assets participating in the exercise included the French Air and Space Force Rafale and E-3F Airborne Warning and Control System, the French Navy Marine Rafale, the U.K. Royal Navy F-35B Lighting II, and the Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon.

The exercise culminated in a live demonstration of a rapid deployment scenario for allied military leaders including Gen. Laurent Rataud from French Air and Space Force, Air Marshal Harvey Smyth, RAF Air and Space Commander, and Lamontagne.

“At Royal Air Force Leeming, our men and women executed the agile combat employment concept alongside our allied partner. This advanced, realistic training in fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft also demonstrated that our combined aircrews are a ready and postured force,” Lamontagne said after observing the demonstration.

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